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Tuesday, February 14, 2006
ROCCO OUSD COMPLAINT
A news service of the Greater Orange Communities Organization
OUSD TRUSTEE STEVE ROCCO FILES COMPLAINT
The Los Angeles Times reported that Orange Unified School District Trustee Steve Rocco filed a complaint on February 5, 2006 in a letter to the Orange County Grand Jury, the Orange County District Attorney, the California State Attorney, the California Secretary of State and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The Times reported that the complaints allege that the OUSD Board violates open meeting laws when they meet in Closed Session. The Times report also states Rocco “alleges unspecified conflicts of interest, fraud and conspiracy among board members and leaders of the district's legislative coalition and the Orange Education Foundation”. The Times reported also reported that Rocco complained about not having access to district stationary.
Since his election, Rocco has refused to attend Closed Sessions. Rocco’s refusal has been based on a stated belief that all meetings of elected officials should be held in public. In California, personnel (including labor negotiations) and pending legal matters can be discussed in Closed Session, but must be agenized and reported out. The OUSD Board had been under a 2003 court order to record Closed Session for possible judicial review after complaints from long time OUSD gadfly Kathy Moran. Moran under the former Recalled Board had sat in on Closed Sessions as a “district negotiator”. After the Orange Recall election, Moran continued to try to have a seat in the sessions, but district administrators and the newly elected Citizen’s Board refused to allow her. Moran helped First Amendment Advocate Richard McKee of Claremont file a suit in Orange County Superior Court alleging the OUSD Board illegally spoke about a land deal in a 2001 Closed Session. Judge Andrew Banks ruled in December 2003 that the OUSD Board must disclose on its agenda all discussions in closed session. The end result was OUSD taped its Closed Sessions for review by a judge if needed. Since then, OUSD has carefully followed the spirit and letter of the judicial order and the open meeting law known as the Brown Act.
Rocco has had a running feud with Denise Bittel of the Orange Education Foundation and the Legislative Coalition. In addition, OUSD Superintendent Office employee Victoria Weber who is also involved in the community booster organizations has also been a target of Rocco’s ire. After Rocco’s election, the OUSD Legislative Coalition proposed to seek legislation that school board trustee candidates be required to collect 25 nominating signatures.
Rocco has also been critical of the fact he is denied official OUSD stationary even though it contains all the names of the OUSD Trustees. He cites the fact that the OUSD Board President appears to have unfettered access to the stationary, OUSD secretarial services, and a small trustee office in the OUSD Superintendent’s Suite. In December, the OUSD Trustees changed a Recall Reform that rotated the three Board offices among the OUSD Trustees, thus denying Rocco any leadership role.
California Attorney General Open Government Web Page
California Fair Political Practices Commission Reporting Web Page http://www.fppc.ca.gov/index.html?id=42
Los Angeles Times Rocco Story